NXNE: NorthByNorthEast

Toronto, Canada
June 12 – 14 2008

by Cameron Stuckey

Each year the city of Toronto plays host to one of the great club-based music festivals happening in North America. North By Northeast (or NXNE as the hardcore fans know it) takes over the city and you can’t really be downtown without being fully aware of the goings-on in the local clubs. Breaking new bands is what NXNE is great for. So enough of this rambling and let’s talk about some of the gigs we saw at this year’s fest!

Winter Gloves

Drake Underground 1150 Queen St. W. Friday 10pm
This Montreal based 4-piece is synth heavy, but definitely in a good way. If you think of Tokyo Police Club fusing themselves with Muse you might have an idea of Winter Gloves’ sound. With strong vocals and indie pop hooks, Winter Gloves had the crowd moving within seconds of starting their NXNE showcase. The singer definitely led the band through their 35 minute set with loads of energy and charisma. The drummer was enjoying playing for the enthusiastic crowd looking like Animal from the Muppets with a constant grin on his face – very entertaining.


Supermarket 268 Augusta Ave. Friday 11 pm
They are labeled as Montreal Trip Hop and are far more diverse than the Trip Hop label from their bio. The lead vocalist sounds like she is singing in the style of Portishead and Grace Jones, but channels Public Enemy in vocal delivery. She gives off Hip Hop attitude that fills the room and leaves you wanting to shake your ass. Two highlights of Beast’s set were the bizarre modification of the bass player’s bass – somehow, he attached a Microkorg to the bottom of his bass which looked like a pimped out ‘Keytar’. The other weird element to the evening that made the show very entertaining was a guy dancing in front of the stage who looked like the love child of Erkel and Kenny G. He had the hair and frame of Kenny G, and the dance moves of Erkel – mental.

Candy Coated Killahz
Supermarket 268 Augusta Ave. Friday 12 pm
Luckily for readers of these reviews, there were no pictures taken of Candy Coated Killahz – and this review will be short so we don’t prolong the agony! Basically, the name was fitting and they were like an untalented Rihanna or Britney and this is not saying much at all. They used every pop cliché in the book and still failed. No Cheeky Girls here!


Kathedral 651 Queen St. W. Saturday 9 pm
Infighter is a Toronto-based 5 piece who deliver on their promise of British-influenced indie rock but did a mediocre job in comparison to other bands in the genre. To give an idea of the sound, they are like a watered down Editors – well, that was until the final 2 songs in their set, one was titled Regret, which were far from mediocre. They definitely delivered an indie rock punch for the final few songs in their set – a brilliant recovery! The two main flaws were the singer’s posing and loving himself off, and the out of tune harmonizing from the female drummer.

Radius & Helena

Velvet Underground 510 Queen St. W. Saturday 10 pm
Touted as American rock a la Sonic Youth and Pavement, Radius and Helena looked superb on paper but fell short in the live setting. The opening song was chaotic sounding with all 4 band members sounding like they were playing completely different songs. Maybe I was expecting too much…maybe it was the fact that there were about 10 people in the venue…maybe it was the lead singers Captain Caveman style animal skin vest… but one thing is certain, they didn’t deliver what was written in their band bio. I will pass on seeing them next time they play a live set in the city.

Pilot Priest
Drake Underground 1150 Queen St. W. Saturday 10 pm
I caught the tail-end of his set which was really intense with hard-hitting electro and mash-ups. He was more DJ than band, but I definitely liked what he was delivering. The crowd was totally behind Pilot Priest, dancing like rabid dogs and the atmosphere was mental as he passed off the set to his crew More Proof DJ’s to fill time until Rabbit Season hit the stage.

Rabbit Season
Drake Underground 1150 Queen St. W. Saturday 11 pm
Rabbit Season’s set was very uneventful and their equipment problems didn’t help the situation. One of their synths was acting up giving a really horrible rumbling feedback; the funny thing was, they didn’t actually need that synth at all and instead of trying to remedy that sound, they could have turned it off with no impact on their set. After a couple minutes, I was wishing I had chosen to see another band.

Styrofoam Ones

Drake Underground 1150 Queen St. W. Saturday 12 am
This was the most appropriate name for this band since they were a ‘one’ trick pony. They sounded great for their opening song, and then that’s all they delivered – the same song over and over for the entire set. I was hoping for more and they let me down! There is not much else to say about them…you can decide for yourself after visiting their myspace page.

Leave a Reply